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No energy left in legs on climbs...

mac_manmac_man Posts: 916
Hi all, 1st post in this section.

I'm 48, 5' 10'' and weigh 12.5 stone. I get out maybe once or twice a week on my bike, anywhere from 5-17 miles around the Calder valley, with plenty of hills to climb.

My problem is I find it a struggle on the steeper climbs and my legs feel like jelly at the top of some cof them whereas the other guys seem to be sprinting away. It's not as if my lungs are collapsing or anything... just the tops of my thighs seem burned out.

Any suggestions for either improving my technique, or any exercises that will strengthen my legs?

TIA
Cool, retro and sometimes downright rude MTB and cycling themed T shirts. Just MTFU.

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Posts

  • jonomc4jonomc4 Posts: 891
    keep your cadence high (80 - 100) and train!

    What helped me a lot was doing the following training on a turbo
    30 mins at high cadence low resistance (for me this was about 100 but for others it will be much higher)
    30 mins low cadence but high resistance (about 50 cadence - up the resistance till this is the best you can achieve cadence wise)
    30 minutes at mid resistance and sensible cadence (for me about 85)

    Helped me on hills a lot and in general.
  • Or just keep it simple and keep riding your bike it's only a fitness issue
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  • mac_manmac_man Posts: 916
    Thanks guys... main issue would be to moderate any knee problems (getting to that middle age period y'know). I understand that spinning in a lower gear is better for the knees... but won't help the thighs tho...

    True about getting out more... :-)
    Cool, retro and sometimes downright rude MTB and cycling themed T shirts. Just MTFU.

    By day: http://www.mtfu.co.uk
  • ollie51ollie51 Posts: 517
    mac man wrote:
    I understand that spinning in a lower gear is better for the knees... but won't help the thighs tho...

    Spinning a lower, or higher gear will have little effect on your thighs - just keep the cadence sensible.

    It's a common misconception when people feel fine lung wise, but feel their legs burning to come to the conclusion their legs are too weak. This is simply not the case. The two things are intrinsically linked; that burning sensation in your legs is an indicator that your lungs (cardiovascular system) are providing insufficient amounts of oxygen, fuel etc to your working muscles. In essence ride more and ride harder - you will improve.

    In terms of technique for really steep climbs:
    -Stay in the saddle, but sit right on the nose of it
    -Put your thumbs on the top of the grips
    -pedal smoothly
  • I've noticed that on my MTB its my legs that will burn out on a hill but CV wise I feel fine.

    On my roadie my legs feel fine but CV wise I'm at my maximum.

    It must be summat to do with my riding position.
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  • mac_manmac_man Posts: 916
    ollie51 wrote:
    mac man wrote:
    I understand that spinning in a lower gear is better for the knees... but won't help the thighs tho...

    Spinning a lower, or higher gear will have little effect on your thighs - just keep the cadence sensible.

    It's a common misconception when people feel fine lung wise, but feel their legs burning to come to the conclusion their legs are too weak. This is simply not the case. The two things are intrinsically linked; that burning sensation in your legs is an indicator that your lungs (cardiovascular system) are providing insufficient amounts of oxygen, fuel etc to your working muscles. In essence ride more and ride harder - you will improve.

    In terms of technique for really steep climbs:
    -Stay in the saddle, but sit right on the nose of it
    -Put your thumbs on the top of the grips
    -pedal smoothly

    So basically just MTFU and attack those hills at a sensible pace, and keep doing it till it hurts less :lol: ?
    I was out this morning up one of the steeper hills around here and I could feel a pain in the muscles just above my knees. Had to stop for a couple of minutes.

    Is it simply a case of keep attacking that hill till it gets easier? ie there's no better form of training other than 'just doing it' ?
    Cool, retro and sometimes downright rude MTB and cycling themed T shirts. Just MTFU.

    By day: http://www.mtfu.co.uk
  • ollie51ollie51 Posts: 517
    mac man wrote:

    So basically just MTFU and attack those hills at a sensible pace, and keep doing it till it hurts less :lol: ?

    Yes.

    There are other ways but that involves turbo trainers, spreadsheets and HRMs/PMs etc...
  • sigorman85sigorman85 Posts: 2,536
    Get ya saddle high and angled down
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  • get off and push.... or is that just me? :lol:
  • mac_manmac_man Posts: 916
    get off and push.... or is that just me? :lol:

    LOL... already happening.

    I did manage to get further up said hill this weekend. So yes, it would seem that try, try and try again is the way forward (literally).
    Cool, retro and sometimes downright rude MTB and cycling themed T shirts. Just MTFU.

    By day: http://www.mtfu.co.uk
  • mcnultycopmcnultycop Posts: 2,143
    Just keep riding and it'll get easier, then do it in a "harder" gear and you'll get up it faster.
  • anj132anj132 Posts: 299
    Jens Voigt wrote:
    Shut up legs!

    This
  • DaliusDalius Posts: 10
    mac man wrote:
    Hi all, 1st post in this section.

    I'm 48, 5' 10'' and weigh 12.5 stone. I get out maybe once or twice a week on my bike, anywhere from 5-17 miles around the Calder valley, with plenty of hills to climb.

    My problem is I find it a struggle on the steeper climbs and my legs feel like jelly at the top of some cof them whereas the other guys seem to be sprinting away. It's not as if my lungs are collapsing or anything... just the tops of my thighs seem burned out.

    Any suggestions for either improving my technique, or any exercises that will strengthen my legs?

    TIA
    Sorry for my English, it's not a native language . :)
    Because of your age, high cadence is not a solution, you must create forceful momentum with your muscles.
    The very first thing I'd recommend - spending some time (two days) a week doing strength exercises (deadlifts, squats, bulgarian split squats, lunges, etc.). They are very safe for your knees if you do them correctly. That means, you must lift weight not with the knees, but with thighs and glutes.
    You can do such a workout (few exercises) just before going for a ride.
    The second thing - more riding standing up, especially climbing, that stresses the whole body so it becomes stronger faster.
    Do not climb two days in a row, let your muscles recover.
  • t.m.h.n.e.tt.m.h.n.e.t Posts: 2,265
    Dalius wrote:
    mac man wrote:
    Hi all, 1st post in this section.

    I'm 48, 5' 10'' and weigh 12.5 stone. I get out maybe once or twice a week on my bike, anywhere from 5-17 miles around the Calder valley, with plenty of hills to climb.

    My problem is I find it a struggle on the steeper climbs and my legs feel like jelly at the top of some cof them whereas the other guys seem to be sprinting away. It's not as if my lungs are collapsing or anything... just the tops of my thighs seem burned out.

    Any suggestions for either improving my technique, or any exercises that will strengthen my legs?

    TIA
    Sorry for my English, it's not a native language . :)
    Because of your age, high cadence is not a solution, you must create forceful momentum with your muscles.
    The very first thing I'd recommend - spending some time (two days) a week doing strength exercises (deadlifts, squats, bulgarian split squats, lunges, etc.). They are very safe for your knees if you do them correctly. That means, you must lift weight not with the knees, but with thighs and glutes.
    You can do such a workout (few exercises) just before going for a ride.
    The second thing - more riding standing up, especially climbing, that stresses the whole body so it becomes stronger faster.
    Do not climb two days in a row, let your muscles recover.

    Why is high cadence not a solution due to age? Why is high cadence not a solution but going to the gym and doing weight work is?

    Please tell me, which type of muscle fibre squats predominantly recruit and which type cycling recruits.

    Thanks
  • DaliusDalius Posts: 10
    Every motion firstly recruits ST, even if you squat. When there is not enough ST fibers for the load, FT ones are recruited.
    Spinning, high cadence recruits of course ST ones, but steep hill climbing requires more power with FT fibers, that you can train and gain from weight training. When you have no strength or FT fibers, steep hills, especially sprinting seem hardly possible. While riding you'll never be able to push the muscles to the limits like during squats.
    And you do not need any gym, a few leg exercises can be performed at home with body weight, dumbbell or kettlebell.. There is no doubt, that if you want power and strength, weight/body lifting is essential.
    Older people will adapt to using more power faster than using high cadence, that stresses cardiovascular system
  • t.m.h.n.e.tt.m.h.n.e.t Posts: 2,265
    Dalius wrote:
    Every motion firstly recruits ST, even if you squat. When there is not enough ST fibers for the load, FT ones are recruited.
    You will find that recruitment is dependent on the type of movement. And the energy system used is dependent also on the type of activity.

    Cycling: Predominantly Type 1 ST fibres which rely on the aerobic system to produce energy slowly with relatively low levels of fatigue.

    Weight lifting: Predominantly Type2 FT which rely on the anaerobic energy systems(creatine phosphate and lactate systems) to produce energy quickly and explosively. These systems are well known for their ability to produce byproducts such as lactate. FEEL THE BURN!

    Lets take four champion sportsmen as an example.

    Sir Chris Hoy - massive legs - TYPE2 - Sprinter
    Bradley Wiggins - skinny legs - TYPE 1 - TDF winner

    Usain Bolt - big in general - TYPE2 - Sprinter
    Mo Farah - skinny - TYPE1 - Distance runner

    You can certainly train to the opposite, but all of the guys above were born to do what they do, genetics decided.
    Spinning, high cadence recruits of course ST ones, but steep hill climbing requires more power with FT fibers, that you can train and gain from weight training.
    Cycling is an aerobic sport. Aerobic power is a product of cardiovascular fitness and the ability to uptake oxygen.
    When you have no strength or FT fibers, steep hills, especially sprinting seem hardly possible.
    I can ride 100miles and I can sprint(abeit not very well). Genetically, my musculature is biased towards ST fibers yet I can also climb steep hills. This isn't a product of my ability to squat or the percentage of FT fibers.
    While riding you'll never be able to push the muscles to the limits like during squats.
    And likewise,riding a bike will rarely if ever present the opportunity to put all of your 100kg squat ability into the pedals.
    And you do not need any gym, a few leg exercises can be performed at home with body weight, dumbbell or kettlebell.. There is no doubt, that if you want power and strength, weight/body lifting is essential.
    And there is no doubt that if you want to be better at climbing hills and/or cycling in general, then cycling is the best way to ensure those fitness gains.
    Older people will adapt to using more power faster than using high cadence, that stresses cardiovascular system
    I uh. What?
  • DaliusDalius Posts: 10
    Ok, I am not minded to discuss much, cause if you want you can find different attitudes and theories.
    I have tried a lot of training types and now just suggested one of them I have found working well not only for me.
    XC and trail riding/racing are usually short anaerobic intervals with short recoveries downhills..it is not road riding
  • mcnultycopmcnultycop Posts: 2,143
    I do a lot of weights, mainly the big strength lifts. A 200kg deadlift has not been any specific help horsing myself up hills this week. I'm generally "fitter" for doing weights, but in terms of helping my mountain biking it just means I have big quads and hamstrings to carry round. Weights are great for me, particularly for weight loss, but don't really assist my cycling.
  • guys, if i could take a slight twist on this thread, i have similar issues except its my lungs that are burning mad before my legs even get to a stressful state. Im panting like an old dog by the time i get to the top.

    Would the advice above of training more, and harder apply here as well?
  • t.m.h.n.e.tt.m.h.n.e.t Posts: 2,265
    Dazza Doom wrote:
    guys, if i could take a slight twist on this thread, i have similar issues except its my lungs that are burning mad before my legs even get to a stressful state. Im panting like an old dog by the time i get to the top.

    Would the advice above of training more, and harder apply here as well?
    More than likely yes. But you need to give a little more info.
  • b45herb45her Posts: 147
    a basic rule of thumb is.

    if your lungs are screaming and legs are fine push a higher gear at lower cadence

    if your lungs are fine and your legs are screaming push a lower gear at a higher cadence .
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  • bartimaeusbartimaeus Posts: 1,812
    I don't have a sports science background, but I am 50, a mountain biker for less than 3 years, and as my local loop has plenty of climbing in it I can sympathise with you!

    If it's the steeper climbs (say15+%) that are hurting then one thing I would suggest is doing some training on the 'less steep' climbs (say 5-10%)... when you've found one that you can pedal up comfortably in a low gear, train by pushing yourself in a slightly higher gear. Repeat until that higher gear is the comfortable gear - and then up your gearing once again. It's easier and more rewarding training this way, rather than endlessly struggling.

    Don't avoid the steep climbs altogether though - a large part of climbing seems to me to be psychological... once you 'know' you can clear a climb you'll be able to do it even when you are dead tired.

    I also find that Strava is excellent as a training tool for climbing!
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  • out of intrest, would deadlifts help with this? reason i ask is i love doing deadlifts and im intrested if it would help
  • t.m.h.n.e.tt.m.h.n.e.t Posts: 2,265
    out of intrest, would deadlifts help with this? reason i ask is i love doing deadlifts and im intrested if it would help
    Nope
  • DimmeDimme Posts: 5
    I have the same problem. I have a good condition but everytime a need to take a steep climb... I explode.

    I always get up, that's no issue at all but I always need 20 seconds to get my breathing and feeling in the legs normal again.
  • If you pick a hilly route and cycle it every second day for a month you're legs and lungs will

    soon get used to it, this way you can increase gradually session to session

    Here is a training program I found on squidoo http://www.squidoo.com/a-good-cycling-training-plan-for-beginners-part-1
  • theshrewtheshrew Posts: 169
    Yes mate the more you do something the better you will get as long as your not just out for a gentle tootle about you will make gains. Most of all enjoy yourself.

    I went to Delamere yesterday ive not been on my bike for ages due to Mrs working weekends now ;-( it was a complete mud fest off the fire roads. My legs feel like ive been run over today and i dont think ive ever been so muddy but i loved every min of it even when i fell off lol
  • iDadiDad Posts: 68
    I can vouch for the more training/riding the more improvement you’ll see.

    My shed got broke in to in 2011 and my trusty old “Clumber park/Sherwood forest leisure riding” bike a full sus 2004 Carrera Banshee was stolen with all my tools while I was not at the house.

    It took ages for the insurance to pay out but when they did I looked around and managed to pick up an almost mint condition 2007 Specialized FSR XC for less than £400 off fleabay. Since then I’ve been getting more and more into the single track riding.

    Up until this year the most I’ve MTB’d locally is a 16mile route around north notts area and the red route at Sherwood pines the odd weekend. Nothing too difficult

    But this year I’ve committed myself and a couple of mates to do a round of the MTB Marathon Series at Marshbrook, Shropshire in July. http://www.mtb-marathon.co.uk 47mile (75K) XC
    I’ve been to a couple of rounds with a catering company I was doing a spot of weekend driving to help a friend out. I had no idea those sort of events were about and chatting to a number of the people riding they were from racers to guys/girls who enjoy just getting out at a weekend on the bike.
    So from the Xmas break I’ve started some serious training, when I can’t get out on the bike through the week I’ve been doing half hour on a cross trainer and have worked up to an hour n half on a multigym. I do this 4 out of 5 nights per week and try and get out on the bike sat or sun with friends.
    I have to say motivation has always been the biggest struggle for me training at home, but this event I’ve entered has really given me the motivation to train….i don’t want to make a total “tw*t” of myself on the event basically lol!

    The biking has increased from 16miles to 37miles last weekend, fitness is definitely improving, I’m still shattered climbing the hills but I’m recovering quicker as well. Also noticing the average speed mapped is increasing.
    When I started mapping my rides using the Map my ride app on the iphone I was averaging 7.7mph over 16miles….i’m now at week 10 of my training and averaged 9.1mph over the 37miles on harder hills and longer route.

    I’m 41, 6’2 and was about 17st, although I’m not seen any weight loss so far I have seen 3” off my waistline…and I’m not as flabby as I was when I started.
    I’m feeling quite good about the training and I’m hoping the progress continues through to july and beyond.
    The bank balance has seen a bit of a battering though, upgrading tires and brakes so far on the bike with a few other “cheap” tweaks required before july comes.
  • eddyseddys Posts: 66
    Breathing is very important. If you don't have a good pattern of breathing using deep breath from the diaphragm then you may see a massive and quick improvement just by getting that nailed.
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